While this weekend's games were not going to change the place that the Portland Winterhawks finish for the regular season, they did have other effects. Records galore were shattered by this team, which continues an impressive 6-game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
With back to back victories over Seattle on Friday and Saturday, the latter being opposite to the fight filled Friday clash ending in a 6-5 shootout victory, and a systematic destruction of Spokane Chiefs 6-1 on Sunday, the Hawks end the season with 57 victories and 117 points (the highest ever in their 37 year history). Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic sat the Sunday game after piling on the points both Friday and Saturday, ending in a tie for the WHL scoring title at 120 points each. Ty Rattie, who did play on Sunday, finished third with 110. The only other player who was close, Colin Smith of Kamloops Blazers, had actually come up short on Saturday's game, giving the Hawks the top three in scoring this season.
Brendan Burke, the Hawks backup goaltender who started the last three games of the season, won them all and showed he is ready to do whatever is necessary to help lead the team in the playoffs. Mac Carruth, who will turn 21 just prior to Game 3 of the WHL first round playoffs, was scratched with a lower body injury which occurred in Victoria on March 12 and as a result, emergency backup Jarrod Schamerhorn, 17 filled in on the bench, but did not see any action during the 3-game weekend stint.
Sunday's Rose Garden game also doubled as awards night. Mac Carruth, Taylor Peters and Troy Rutkowski were awarded their jerseys as graduating players from the league this season The award winners were:
Scholastic Award – shared by Troy Rutkowski and Dominic Turgeon
Donald D. Ickes Memorial Booster Club Most Popular Player – Taylor Peters
Robert R. Boss Best Defensive Player – Taylor Peters
Bill Anderson Memorial Sportsmanship & Ability – Troy Rutkowski
Leading Scorer Award – shared by Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic
Brian C. Shaw MVP trophy – shared by Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsic
Rookie of the Year – shared by Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Jones
Following the Winterhawks awards, Richard Doerkson, Vice President, Hockey of the WHL, was on hand to present Portland Winterhawks captain Troy Rutkowski with the Scotty Munro trophy signifying the Western Hockey League's regular season champions.
Ice Chips: With 29 road wins this season, the Winterhawks eclipse the 28 road win seasons of the Calgary Hitmen (1999-00) and Saskatoon Blades (2008-09) The Hawks best ever 117 points puts them sixth overall all time and their 57 wins puts them fourth all time in league history.
The playoffs start this Friday and Saturday at the Rose Garden versus the Everett Silvertips. The Hawks won the season series 9-1. The series will continue in Everett on Wednesday, March 27 and Friday, March 29. If necessary, Game 5 would be Saturday, March 30 at the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, Game 6 Monday, April 1 in Everett and Game 7 in Portland on Wednesday, April 3. All games will be aired on KPAM AM860 and there will be viewing parties around the Portland Metro area for all away games.
Stuart Kemp is the President of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club which works as a liaison between the Portland Winterhawks Hockey Club and its fans with fan trips, player photos and more. Its goal is to assist the WAHA Player's Education Fund and Junior Hockey Programs in the local area. http://www.pwhbc.com